Changes to availability of Message Records and Media attachments (October 2020)

On October 14, 2020, Twilio will be implementing three key changes to how we store Message records and Media attachments:

This new data access policy will apply to all Programmable Messaging Channels, including SMS, MMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more. This policy does not apply to Programmable Chat or Conversations. 

Why is this happening?

Twilio is making these changes to improve the following areas:

  • Log Performance: Moving to this new 13-month window will help speed up Message Logs loading in Console, and increase query speed for retrieving logs via the Messages API.
  • Customer Privacy: Deleting media older than 13 months helps Twilio better comply with privacy-related best practices and regulations, including GDPR.
  • Usage Expectations: Changing message media message deletion behavior brings us in-line with what our customers have expected from message deletion. There is no longer a need to delete Media objects separately if you are deleting an entire Media Message.

What do I need to do?

Depending on your usage model, some customers may need to locally archive media objects or change how they access message logs. Twilio is making the following general recommendations:

  • Users with media messages older than 13 months: If you have MMS or WhatsApp media messages in your logs older than 13 months, and you need to retain the associated media for your records, please ensure you download these media files before they are deleted on October 14, 2020.
  • Users accessing message logs older than 13 months: If you use Twilio Console or the Messages API to retrieve message records older than 13 months, you can download these records using the Messages API prior to October 14, 2020. After that, you can still generate day-by-day archive files via Bulk Export Message Log Archives in Console, or programmatically using the Bulk Export API.

If you don’t need to retrieve records of messages or media that you sent/received on Twilio more than 13 months ago, you don’t need to do anything.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What if I want to download all my messages older than 13 months?

Our new bulk-export product (available in Console and via the REST API) gives users access to all messages sent since you began using Twilio. This tool allows for producing one file per day containing JSON message records (without media) from an Account SID.

What will happen to the media in messages?

To be compliant with GDPR regulations, media older than 13 months will be deleted from our databases and unavailable for access after October 14, 2020. If you need access to the media associated with your messages older than 13 months, please download these media files before this date.

After October 14, 2020, media associated with messages will continue to be deleted from Twilio storage once they are 13 months old. If retaining media files long-term is important for your business, please ensure you download message media within 13 months of sending/receiving it.

How can I download media for my historical messages?

First, retrieve a list of your messages using the Messages List API or the Bulk Export utility (available in Console and via the REST API).

Then, use the Messages API to programatically iterate through messages with media (identified by a Message SID starting with MM), get the associated Media SIDs, and use these to download the media object(s) attached to each message. For more details and code samples, see the Read multiple Media resources (Twilio Docs).

Note: It is only possible to download message media using the Messages API. The Bulk Export utility does not provide any access to media, even on messages less than 13 months old.

Will this Data Access Policy affect other products?

Yes. Twilio plans to adopt a similar 13-month data access policy for Voice Records sometime in Q4 2020. We will notify Voice users ahead of this change once we have determined the official dates. These data access policies for Messaging and Voice will also be inherited by other products like Flex automatically.

What is changing about how I delete my messages? 

The deletion behavior for messages with media attachments (identifiable by Message SIDs beginning with MM) is changing on October 14, 2020. From this date on, when you delete a message with a media attachment using the Message resource, Twilio will also delete the media file associated with that message.

Please note, this change only applies to media files that are referenced by no other records. If an MMS message is deleted, but another message still uses that exact same media file, the media file won't be deleted with the first message.

I deleted messages in the past with the Messages API, using HTTP DELETE requests. Will these deleted messages ever become available again in the Bulk Export API or Messaging Log Archives?

No. Messages that were deleted using HTTP DELETE requests are gone forever. Deleted messages will not become accessible again in the Logs or in the Bulk Export tools.

Can I ask Twilio not to store older messages in archive, or change this access range from 13 months, to a different time-window?

Not at this time. However, we are planning to introduce these capabilities at a later date.

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